A group of people in Saskatchewan are taking it upon themselves to keep the care of ovarian cancer patients near the top of the premier’s priorities.
By the end of next summer, three of the four gynecologic oncologists – doctors who specialize in gynecologic cancers – will be leaving their positions in the province.
According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, one of the two gynecologic oncologists in Saskatoon will be leaving in December and the second is on indefinite leave. One of the two specialists in Regina will be leaving their position in June 2019, leaving just one for the entire province.
Ovarian cancer is the most deadly cancer for women in Canada – 55 per cent of those diagnosed won’t survive five years.
“Our very best outcomes is if we have our surgeries done by a gynecological oncologist. That’s our best chance. And that’s why everyone’s so upset that they’re leaving,” explained Anne Chase.
Chase is a cancer survivor and is involved with a support group for patients. She took part in meetings this week with Health Minister Jim Reiter and Premier Scott Moe.
“(Moe had) heard about the meeting yesterday (with Reiter) and just wanted to talk to me and reassure me that they were doing everything they can to recruit and replace the doctors,” Chase said on Wednesday morning.
Chase said the meetings were reassuring for her. Both politicians said they want to make sure there’s no disruption in care for the patients.
“That’s basically what we’re all trying to do because the patients are scared that they’re losing their doctors, so they just have to make sure that that pressure is off them and we look after them.”
Stephanie Gosselin was in the meeting with the health minister as well. She’s the regional director for Ovarian Cancer Canada in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
She said she was encouraged by the meeting with the premier.
“We just thought it was very important to bring the patient focus to him as well, so he could understand these anxieties that the patients are now dealing with.”
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said it’s making arrangements to make sure patients continue to receive timely care.
Trained specialists will be brought in on a temporary basis to fill the gaps in Saskatoon. New patient referrals are being separated based on urgency and then decisions will be made as to the best place for them to be treated.
The health authority also said recruitment efforts to fill those positions are already underway.